IN 2014, MARKING the fourth World NGO Day, the European Commissioner for Development Andris Piebalgs said that it was “only right that, on just one day, the world should celebrate NGOs and thank them for the tremendous work that they do.”
Non-governmental organizations have a history that dates to at least the late eighteenth century. International NGOs played a crucial role in the anti-slavery moment and the global push for women’s suffrage, even if the phrase “non-governmental organization” itself didn’t come into popular use until 1945, with the establishment of the United Nations. In the globalized era, NGOs have persistently and forcefully emphasized mainly humanitarian issues, developmental aid and sustainable development, and have many times been praised for succeeding when larger international bodies such as the United Nations have failed. Mohamed Sahnoun, the former UN envoy to Somalia, wrote in Somalia: The Missed Opportunities that NGOs had totally outperformed the United Nations in their collective efforts to provide humanitarian assistance thanks to their competence and dedication.
Today, organizations that operate independently and outside of the government to promote the wellbeing of everyone in society are more important than ever. So too is the importance of those agencies that continue doing vital work for the poor and vulnerable around the world, particularly in this current rise of populist nationalism.
At FINCA, we have always done two things: 1) taken a market-based approach to our work, with the goal of long-term sustainability, and 2) placed client wellbeing at the center of our mission, to ensure that we are serving our clients responsibly. In doing so, we have been able to continue, uninterrupted, to change lives for the better.
NGOs perform a valuable role in the international community––working tirelessly and often behind the scenes, to aid those who most need it and to provide tools and resources for people to help themselves. On World NGO Day, we should celebrate the successes of international NGOs, learn from their shortcomings and continue to innovate with new ideas of how we can make the world better for the vulnerable and excluded.